Sunday, May 15, 2011

Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunder, by Michael Townsend (ages 8 - 12)

Our students have been having fun with a new mashup of Greek mythology and silly cartoons, with Michael Townsend's Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunder. This is clearly not your standard retelling of Greek mythology, but a true comedic retelling that had me laughing out loud. It's a great introduction to Greek myths for 3rd and 4th graders, and one that's gotten big smiles from our students.
Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and BlundersAmazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunder
by Michael Townsend
NY: Dial Books, 2010
ages 8 - 12
available on Amazon and at your local library
Open this book, and you'll see a full page warning that "the book you are about to read contains nine bizarre and wacky tales that take place in a Greek-tastic myth-o-rific world!!!" And that is very true. This is not a classic mythology at all, but kids will laugh out loud at it. They love the wackiness, the humor, the bright colors. Come take a look at the introduction through the preview on Google Books and you can see what I mean:

This silly, comic-book style approach to Greek gods will attract kids who don't know Greek myths, and introduce them to characters such as King Midas, Pandora, Pygmalion, Icarus, Hercules and more.

Townsend retells many favorite stories - he's selected ones that lead to definite funny moments. I was expecting King Midas's story, but I wasn't expecting the abduction of Persephone. I mean, a journey to the underworld as funny? You betcha! Especially when Hades' sidekick is called Deadkins, with his zombie eyes and pale green skin. Hades wants the underworld to be full of flowers and hopping bunnies, but it just doesn't turn out like he wants it to. The flowers wither and Cerebus, his three-headed dog, keeps eating the bunnies!

I did notice that the stories lack the emotional resonance that I remembered as a child. Instead, Townsend goes after the laughs and would be a great way to get kids wanting to read more. If kids want to explore other retellings, check out George O'Connor's graphic novels focusing each on one god or goddess, such as Zeus and Athena (Hera will be published soon). Our students are also really enjoying these more intense tales of the Greek gods.

Find other great books at the weekly Nonfiction Monday feature. Today's round-up is hosted by Simply Science.

The review copy came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.

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